PMA valedictorian says cadets at flower fest inspired her to join military
BAGUIO CITY –– The valedictorian of the first Philippine Military Academy Class to graduate during the coronavirus pandemic, said cadets parading in the annual Baguio Flower Festival inspired her to serve the country as a member of the military.
Army 2LT. Gemalyn Sugui, who topped the 196-strong Masidlawin Class of 2020, said she had already achieved a milestone before heeding the lure of a military career.
In her valedictory speech, Sugui said she was among the pioneering graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Management Economics when it was first offered by the University of the Philippines Baguio.
The new Army officer said she struggled hard for her economics degree, fueled by the sacrifices made by her mother, a public school teacher, and by her father, a farmer of Echague town in Isabela, to get all their four children through college.
“I always heard my mother say that we needed to focus on our studies and not worry about our finances. My parents never failed to remind us that quality education is the most important thing they could provide us,” she said.
She faced a similar challenge switching to a military career, Sugui admitted, although her parents backed her decision.
“I was anxious as I didn’t have any military background. I just wanted to be a part of these uniformed men and women whom I always saw at Session Road during the Panagbenga Festival (in February) and at (a popular mall) during weekends … I just desired it,” Sugui revealed.
But after passing the entrance examination and was granted access to the academy grounds for the first time on March 31, 2016, Sugui was reprimanded for quizzing a superior officer as to why she “should not look at upperclassmen in the eye.”
Live one day at a time, became Sugui’s mantra, which helped her push through her tough moments at the academy.
She said training for four years gave her “bitter experiences, which made me stronger, and happy ones, which made me grateful for everything.”
Masidlawin’s graduation on Friday (May 22) was unusual because it was conducted without their parents, amid a thunderstorm, Sugui said.
PMA proceeded with the ceremony but staged it as a private affair with no guests to spare the cadets from being infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
But being commissioned online by President Duterte as junior officers “marks the start of our first day to prove to the country that we deserve to be members of the Armed Forces (of the Philippines) and that we are ready to serve as young leaders of the country,” the valedictorian said.
All members of Masidlawin would be deployed to their designated branches of service in the AFP.
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